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November 16, 2013

Driving for veterans

Group stops in Greenville as they raise funds for disabled veterans

GREENVILLE — A group of military veterans and supporters have been traveling (slowly) across the United States, raising money and awareness for wounded veterans. On Thursday, they stopped by the Hunt County Disabled American Veterans Chapter 81 for a barbecue meal and home-cooked dessert.

The project, called Drive for Veterans, is the brain child of Columbia ParCar CEO Todd Sauey. The Drive kicked off on Oct. 14 in San Diego, Calif. and will wrap up in Florida around Dec. 5.

“He really wanted to do something for the veterans, and Columbia ParCar believes that private enterprise should stand up for the ideas they want to support, so that’s how this happened,” Director of Public Relations & Fundraising Jennifer C. Johnson said.

Johnson said that the group had planned events along the way at DAVs and VFWs, including a celebration at their destination at The Villages, Fla.

“We’re meeting so many people along the way; meeting veterans and hearing their stories,” she said. “At the end of the day, this is really about people helping people.

The four low-speed vehicles, which are electric and charged every night, are not enclosed and travel at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. They’re all driven by veterans, and there are several other cars in the convoy.

Veteran Dave Olson, who served in the U.S. Navy for 25 years before retiring in 1993, is one of the drivers.

“It’s not about us,” he said. “It’s about raising money for the men and women in the military coming home with disabilities. I am truly lucky to live in America and to get this opportunity to meet all these wonderful people. It feels like they’ve been getting better and better, the farther east we’ve gone.”

All of the funds raised go to support the Fisher House and Semper Fi Fund, organizations Johnson said were chosen because the money goes directly to helping out wounded veterans.

“People have been very gracious toward us,” she said. “We’ve also had a lot of people honk and give us a ‘thumbs up.’ They may think we’re a little crazy, but if nothing else, they notice us.”

To keep up with the Drive for Veterans as they continue their journey or to donate, visit www.driveforveterans.com.

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